Uganda, Sudan and Congo agree to fight LRA rebels
KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to jointly fight the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels if peace talks with its elusive leader Joseph Kony fail, a military official said on Thursday.
Kony snubbed mediators in April after raising hopes that he would sign a peace deal to end over two decades of war in Uganda's north that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced two million more.
"The three countries have agreed to launch military operations against Joseph Kony and his men, because he has demonstrated that he is not interested in peace at all," said Major Paddy Ankunda, Uganda's military spokesman.
"As usual Kony has used the peace process to recruit, abduct and rearm himself to fight on," he added.
The military chiefs of the three countries finalized the deal on Tuesday. Uganda has called for a multinational regional force in the past.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is due on Thursday to make a national address, in which, officials said, he would try to convince Ugandans why a military offensive is needed.
A security source in Kampala said that Kony had established bases in Congo and the Central African Republic. The rebels have also used Sudan as a base in the past.
Human rights groups say the rebels have abducted hundreds of children in recent months in those countries.
Kony and two of his deputies are wanted for multiple war crimes such as massacres, rapes and abducting children to use as sex slaves and fighters in the 21-year civil war.
Talks between the LRA and Uganda, which began in 2006 in south Sudan's capital Juba, have been credited with returning calm to Uganda's north.
Members of the rebel delegation in Juba called for patience.
"We should not give up. We should give Joseph more time to tell the world what his problem is with the peace deal," lead rebel negotiator James Obita said on a Ugandan radio station. "There is still a chance to talk peace and sign the peace agreement," he said.
The U.N. envoy for the Great Lakes region and former Mozambique president Joaqim Chissano was expected in Juba on Thursday to meet the LRA delegation.
Uganda announced earlier this week that it sought U.S. support to fight the rebels if talks fail.
(Editing by Jack Kimball)
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)
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